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What is the best truck GPS navigation system?

By now, most truck drivers have adopted a GPS navigation solution. But often, the solution they choose is a consumer-grade navigation system such as Waze or Google Maps.

A truck GPS navigation solution goes far beyond consumer-grade navigation and accounts for many of the unique complexities faced by heavy-duty trucks. 

But what is the best truck GPS navigation system for your fleet? To determine this, you’ll want to learn what truck GPS navigation is, how it works, and the key features to look for when selecting a solution.

What is truck GPS navigation?

Put simply, truck GPS navigation calculates the most efficient way to get from your current (or planned) location to your desired location, while considering the unique requirements of a heavy-duty vehicle.

How do truck GPS navigation solutions work?

At the core of a truck GPS navigation system is the database maintained by the provider. Most providers of truck GPS navigation systems are constantly updating their database with truck-relevant information such as rest stops, truck parking, bridge heights, weight limits, speed limits, construction zones, and much more.

A commercial truck GPS navigation system solution uses a phone, telematics system, or specific navigation device to communicate with the Global Positioning System (GPS) system to determine the truck’s real-time location, speed, and direction.

Drivers will enter the specs of their truck (height, weight, etc.), whether they are hauling HazMat, and other load-specific criteria before entering their destination.

When a destination is chosen, the navigation provider’s software uses its current GPS data and vehicle/load details within their database. It then calculates the most efficient, compliant route to the desired destination.

How are consumer and truck GPS navigation systems different?

A truck GPS navigation system has the core functionality of a consumer solution but is customized to the unique needs of a heavy-duty truck. We’ll break this into two parts: features and the back-office experience.

GPS navigation features

Here’s a list of the factors commercial truck GPS navigation systems commonly factor into your routes that consumer-grade solutions do not:

  • Truck height and weight
  • Road weight limits and bridge height restrictions
  • HazMat road restrictions
  • Hours of Service compliance
  • Rest stops and truck parking
  • Weigh stations
  • Steep declines and tight turn alerts

Anyone who has had to backtrack because of an unexpected low bridge understands the importance of a navigation solution that factors in truck-specific criteria.

The back-office experience

Another notable difference between consumer and commercial truck gps navigation systems is back-office visibility. With a consumer GPS navigation solution, fleet managers and dispatchers typically have little to no visibility into the route a driver has been assigned.

With a commercial truck gps navigation system, the back office can often view, plan, dispatch, and update routes. A few reasons why some fleets choose to do this:

  • Having dispatchers who specialize in route planning often leads to more efficient, compliant routes
  • It simplifies the process of planning a route with multiple stops and customer delivery window requirements
  • Dispatchers can sometimes find and assign additional load opportunities along an existing route, leading to increased revenue

The CoPilot Truck integration with Motive is one example of a strong navigation back office experience.

What are the benefits of a commercial truck GPS navigation solution?

A commercial truck GPS navigation solution can be used to benefit your business in many ways, including:

Fewer miles driven

Between fuel and vehicle wear and tear, each mile driven hits the bottom line. With optimized routes and reduced out-of-route miles, you’ll get from point A to point B more cost-efficiently.

Improved on-time percentages

Late deliveries hurt customer relationships and can lead to a loss of future business. With fewer unexpected issues (e.g., having to turn around at a low bridge), you’ll be late less and keep customers happy.

Safer driving

Staying off roads with low bridges, steep declines, and tight corners can help avoid risky situations. Proactively planning for Hours of Service compliance and truck parking can reduce the temptation to speed to make up time.

Improved compliance

A truck-specific GPS navigation solution avoids roads where you’ll exceed the weight limit, accounts for HazMat rules, and helps proactively plan rest stops/truck parking to stay ELD compliant.

How to choose the best truck GPS navigation system for your business

A truck GPS navigation system has become a must-have tool for trucking companies. But, choosing the right solution isn’t quite as simple. To find the best truck GPS navigation system, it helps to understand the most important features to look for. 

What are the key truck GPS navigation features to look for?

There are many features to consider when choosing the best truck GPS navigation system for your business. While the exact solution to choose will depend on your individual and business needs, there are some key features you should be looking for in a truck GPS navigation system.

Key truck GPS navigation features for drivers

The ability to enter multiple vehicle sizes and classes

A truck GPS navigation solution should create routes based on the specs of the truck you’re currently in. Be sure to choose a solution that isn’t “one-size-fits-all” as this defeats much of the value of a truck-specific solution. Also, your solution should allow for multiple vehicle profiles. This is especially important if you run a slip-seating operation.

Bridge, overpass, and road weight restrictions

A solution should use your current vehicle specs to route you away from bridges and roads that you cannot legally and safely operate on.

Speeding alerts

Not only is speeding dangerous, but speeding tickets can damage your CSA score. Look for a solution that displays the posted speed sign and provides audible alerts when speeding excessively.

Hazmat compliance

If you haul HazMat, you know that planning compliant routes can be complex. Truck GPS navigation should offer HazMat compliant routing.

Dangerous road alerts

Some roads that are safe for passenger vehicles are risky for heavy-duty trucks. Look for a solution that alerts drivers of upcoming steep inclines and declines, narrow roads, and sharp corners.

Rest stops, parking, and other points of interest

The availability of truck parking, rest stops, and other facilities have always been important when planning a route. In the Electronic Logging Device era, it’s become critical.

Without insight into parking and rest stops when choosing a route, you may end up running out of drive time with nowhere to stop. Your solution should make it simple to identify these key points along each suggested route.

Key truck GPS navigation features for fleet owners

Accurate and dynamic ETAs

Look for a solution that provides realistic ETA updates within a web dashboard. This is important to keep customers updated without needing to distract the driver with calls or messages.

Easy route planning and dispatching

Many fleets like to plan specific routes for drivers, especially when there are multiple stops. Your truck GPS navigation & tracking solution should make it simple to plan a route and dispatch the route directly to your driver’s phone.

Hours of Service integration

Look for a solution that integrates with a driver’s Hours of Service to increase route planning efficiency and compliance.

Planned vs. actual reporting and alerts

In transportation, every mile and minute impacts the bottom line. With planned vs. actual reporting, you can find opportunities to address off route mile situations to plan and execute a route more cost-efficiently in the future.

Also, some solutions provide the option of receiving real-time alerts when a driver leaves the assigned route by a set number of miles. These alerts can be used to proactively clear up any confusion or unexpected issues with the route.

3 tips for choosing the right truck GPS navigation provider:

  1. Over-the-air updates. Between construction, road weight restrictions, and speed limits, the reality out on the road is constantly changing. Look for a provider that offers automatic updates “over-the-air” via a WiFi or cellular connection at no additional charge.
  2. Reviews. There are many review sites that share the experience of current users. Some of the leading review sites for truck GPS navigation are Capterra, G2, GetApp, and the Google Play Store.
  3. A monthly subscription. With a truck GPS navigation solution, quality is the key. It’s unlikely the provider can invest heavily enough to keep their road database updated without a monthly fee. Often, a non-subscription solution may not be the right choice. 

Truck GPS navigation is just the start: Motive’s App Marketplace

A truck GPS navigation system is an important part of running a safe, efficient fleet.

But, navigation is just the start. To compete in trucking, one of America’s most competitive industries, a modern fleet can (and should) do so much more.

That’s where Motive comes in. Motive is the fleet management solution built for modern fleets. With Motive, you can:

  • Manage drivers, vehicles, and assets from a single dashboard
  • Easily dispatch routes to drivers through their ELD with pre-built navigation integrations
  • Help prevent collisions with dash cams

Reduce costs such as fuel usage and vehicle maintenance